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Archive for December, 2011

Top Titles 2011

As I’m going to not be posting between now and the new year I thought I would put my top picks of this year down now.

These aren’t the only ones I loved and there is no order to them, they are simply some of the ones released this year as far as I know that stand out in my mind.

Picture Books

The Flying Orchestra – Clare McFadden

The Last Viking – Norman Jorgensen/James Foley

The Jewelfish of Karnak – Graeme Base

Fiction 4-9

Violet Mackeral’s Natural Habitat – Anna Branford

Mystery in Paris – Thea Stilton (As with the rest of the series)

The Amazing Voyage – Geronimo Stilton (really I love the whole series)

Fiction 8 – 12

Eight Keys – Suzanne LaFleur

The Medusa Plot – Gordon Korman

Wonderstruck – Brain Selznick

Young Adult Fiction

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

The Extraordinaires – Michael Pryor

Mastiff – Tamora Pierce

Aussie Christmas Books

It’s that time of year and I get asked for these titles all the time, so here they are.

An Aussie Night Before Christmas – Yvonne Morrison/Kilmeny Niland

An Aussie Day Before Christmas – Kilmeny Niland

Santa’s Aussie Holiday – Maria Farrer/Anna Walker

Six White Boomers – Rolf Harris/Bruce Whatley

Aussie Jingle Bells – Colin Buchanan/Nick Bland

Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas – Colin Buchanan/Kilmeny Niland

People’s Republic – December Book Club

Of all the themes in the Cherub series human trafficking is one of those topics that pushes my buttons. So you might think it strange that I chose to post about that at this time of the year, what with Christmas only a few days away. In some ways though I think now is a perfect time to think about things like this.

I live in a prosperous country and have a roof over my head, a job, friends, clothes and food. People that get swept into the complex world of people smuggling often don’t have the luxuries afforded to me. Those that are smuggled at any rate. Those that do the smuggling in many ways live possibly as well or better than I do.

I don’t claim to understand more than a fraction of this complex issue but what I know makes me angry and sad. I am angry that the world we live in has such horrid violations against decency and it makes me sad that so many people are in a position to be taken advantage of.

The people smuggling in People’s Republic focuses on illegal workers ending up in sweat shop conditions rather than the more high profile sex trade but without a question both these issues are tragic and important.

As in Cherub the issue is wider than most of us will ever think about and there is no easy solution. Any smuggling operation like this, is a chain and cutting off one head will more than likely not just result in someone else popping up to fill the void.

I guess really then the question I should ask, before I continue to rant on the topic, is ‘do issues like this have a place in young adult fiction?’

I know there are many who think our youth don’t need to know about all these things but the truth is they do. Young people talk about all sorts of things, they are aware of what is going on in the world, or at least some of them are. Teenagers shouldn’t be underestimated, their interests and passions are as varied as those in any given group of adults.

Books like the Cherub series address the darker issues of our society, and our teenagers face some of these things everyday. Admittedly most won’t have contact with anything to do with people smuggling but influences such as drugs, cults and gangs? Well in my opinion we would be naïve to think otherwise. As far as I can see the Cherub books are interesting stories, I enjoy reading them, the adventure and action. I have problems with the way characters like James treat women, but then the women have the ability to kick his butt – though with Kerry constantly going back to him…well that says things I would like to talk about but this is not the forum for that.

The other thing is if you are so inclined these books can springboard topics of discussion or research. Books that include such topics give us the opportunity to look at things we would sometimes prefer not to look at too closely and sometimes awareness is vital in dealing with issues like these.

So then yes, I believe there is a place in young adult fiction to broach such delicate and inflaming topics.

The Hobbit – Movie Trailer

Announced today was the trailer for the much anticipated film version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Just to refresh your memory here is a Lord of the Rings super trailer.

Christmas Story Clips

It’s less than a week until Christmas and I’m in the festive spirit so I thought it would be a good time to share a few videos of Christmas stories. All of these tales can be found in book form for you to share with your little ones.

Firstly because I come from the southern hemisphere where it’s hot.

Now for something a little more traditional.


Hunger Games New Poster

A new poster and I have to say I think it looks great. The Hunger Games juggernaut it seems is gathering momentum.

Mouse’s Christmas Wish

By: Judi Abbot

Mouse wishes to spend christmas with his friends, so when the invitation arrives, he is very excited. He has so much to do before he can go though and somehow things keep going wrong. While his friends travel from all over and arrive at Rabbit’s Mouse experiences one disaster after another. Will he ever get his christmas wish?

This is a beautiful little story about christmas and friendship. Mouse is an adorable little character whom you can’t help but like and feel sorry for. The illustrations are simple, bold and appealing. For a nice christmas story with the focus away from presents and santa this is a choice well worth looking at.

Publisher: Picture Corgi

Published: 29 September 2011

Format: Paperback 32 pages

Categories: Animal Stories, Christmas

ISBN 13: 9780552563246

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

Just Right

By: Birdie Black

Illustrations: Rosalind Beardshaw

Christmas is a time of sharing and giving and this story is more about one piece of cloth than any particular character. The story is the journey of the cloth from a large piece and the gift commissioned for a princess by a king, down to the smallest of left over pieces used to make something for a little mouse. These gifts are made from the heart and this is a beautiful tale about the spirit of giving. The illustrations are simple, subdued in tone and really work. Reading this made me feel like going and hugging my kids. A lovely simple tale with heart.

Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd

Published: 28 September 2011

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Christmas, Animals, Gifts

ISBN 13: 9780857630308

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

The Red Tree – Behind The Scenes

Barking Gecko Theatre in Western Australia developed a stage version of the brilliant book, The Red Tree by Shaun Tan.

Here is a clip of behind the scenes, how it all came to be, with comments from Shaun himself.

Guess How Much I Love You – On Stage

Oh I would so take my girls to something like this.

A stage version of the modern classic written by Sam McBratney. It combines books and performance how could you not love this.

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